I have some good news and bad news.
The good news insofar as Philippine Airlines owner Lucio Tan is concerned is that he’s thinking of collapsing the flag carrier in the wake of its labor woes. There are some 1,600 employees going on strike soon; no wonder Tan is so silent on the PAL problem. He has had enough!
PAL insiders say that Lucio Tan would like to have a lateral transfer of pilots and flight attendants to AirPhil, his budget and express airline which also has a franchise for international flights. The airline management will then have reason to claim redundancy of jobs and thus lay off employees. Neat, huh?
Recall that Air Philippines was formerly owned by businessman William Gatchalian, who sold it to the taipan. At that time with PAL already hemorrhaging because of labor woes, was Tan already thinking of collapsing PAL? Back when Tan bought PAL from government, he told me he didn’t know what he was getting into. Now the taipan, in spite of his successes in his other businesses, like cigaret manufacturing, brewery, banking and real estate development, certainly knows better.
With the PAL going belly-up, what will happen to the many labor problems the flag carrier is facing? What about its P3.6 billion debt in landing fees to government? And what about the fact that the Board of Airline Representatives, which PAL heads, has reneged on the payment of P350 million in overtime and meal charges for Customs, Immigration and Quarantine personnel at the three terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and at the Mactan International Airports?